The trial on the future of popular ride-sharing app Uber has been adjourned until November, however the government's stance on fighting illegal transportation practices has pushed many drivers to quit the service.
Used car dealers in Istanbul say they have seen a rise in car sales by Uber drivers, meanwhile there has been an increase in online car sale ads reading "urgently for sale by Uber driver."
Taxi associations in the city had filed a lawsuit against the popular app, calling for blocking access to the app and seeking damages caused by the app in harming their business. An Istanbul court yesterday ruled for expert witness reports to be prepared for the case and adjourned the hearing to Nov.7.
Eyüp Aksu, head of an Istanbul taxi association which filed a complaint against Uber, said the app contravened Turkish laws. "A government regulation (banning vehicles carrying a certain type of travel permit from commercial use), fines for Uber and the statement of the president has put an end to this matter. We now await the final verdict of the court," he told reporters.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan signaled on Friday that Turkey will join several other European countries that have banned the ride-hailing service, saying that "the Uber controversy is over."
"This Uber business that came about, it's over. There's no such thing anymore," Erdoğan said in his speech. "We have a taxi system," he said, adding that a personal taxi system would not be allowed to destroy the business of Turkish taxi drivers. "We will be the ones to make the decision [on Uber]."
Aksu acknowledged shortcomings of taxi drivers in Istanbul, who are viewed as rude to passengers, often face accusations of overcharging, as well as driving decrepit cars. "We have to serve people better, with better cars. Drivers should be careful about how they treat customers and how they dress. I believe that the public will see how taxi drivers have changed in a few months," he said. This lawsuit and pledges to change for better by taxi drivers may spell an end for Uber. Increased crackdown on Uber drivers - who are subject to fines for illegal transportation under existing Turkish laws - and Erdoğan's remarks, may accelerate the ride-sharing app's exit. İsmail Olgun, a car dealer at İstoç Auto Center, a hub of car dealerships, says they have up to 25 Uber cars put up for sale on some days. Olgun, who buys and sells luxury vans, says there has been a high demand in the past due to Uber's foray into the Turkish market and some people even received bank loans to set up "Uber fleets" but it has backfired recently. Olgun claimed some 70 percent of Uber drivers have already quit the service.
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